When 19-year-old Bijon discovered she was going to be a mom, she started to look at certain things differently. Before, walking and using public transportation was no issue, but she wanted to have her own reliable transportation when the baby came—a more dependable way to get to appointments, the grocery store, cosmetology school, and the salon Bijon hoped to open. It would make a big difference in her life and in the life of her child. But the path to obtaining reliable transportation for a young person who’s aged out of foster care is filled with barriers.
DePaul’s Independent Living program was providing Bijon with support, a safe place to live, and assistance with bills so she could save for her future. But those savings would be wiped out if she had to pay for driver’s education courses on her own. She couldn’t get her license without taking those courses, and she couldn’t pay for those courses without taking money from the savings account she was trying to build with her limited income. DePaul saw Bijon’s need and worked to meet it. Bijon began her driver’s education courses last summer.
“It would have been so hard for me to pay for that on my own … it was a big help,” said Bijon.
The Bridge to Hope fund was created after a generous $15,000 donation from the Hughes Philanthropic Society, a donation which they have since graciously made again. The fund was designed to help bridge the financial gap for children, teens, families, and individuals with disabilities who are at a crossroads. It covers big things and small, ordinary things. It covers services and tangible needs that cannot be billed to insurance or do not meet certain reimbursable requirements set by governmental agencies. It covers things that many people take for granted.
“The fund lets us say yes to life-changing services and items when everyone else has said no,” said Daria VanRavestein, development manager.
Bijon is dreaming big these days … of that salon she’s going to open, of the financial stability she is going to build, and of the loving, nurturing home she is going to provide for her son. The courses covered by the generous donors who make these funds possible helped remove barriers on Bijon’s road to her future, and for that, she is extremely grateful.
“Thank you,” said Bijon. “Whether it’s a little bit or a lot of money, it all goes a long way. It’s much appreciated on my end.”
Click here to learn more about the Bridge to Hope Fund.